Business Loans

How to Track Expenses for PPP Loan Forgiveness

May 25, 2020 • 6 min read
Business Owner Managing Bills
Table of Contents

      UPDATE: The PPP loan application period ended May 31, 2021. Learn about financing options available for small businesses today at

      If you applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you’re likely very aware of the uses, expectations, and tracking requirements needed to achieve loan forgiveness. If you’re not, we’ll give you a refresher here, along with another basic guide for how best to track the movement of every single one of your PPP dollars. 

      Where You Can Spend Your PPP Loan Dollars

      The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness specifications are pretty strict when it comes to funds usage. There are 2 core categories of which you need to be aware: “payroll” and “other business expenses.” To get the forgiveness we all hope you will, it’s vital that you keep to these approved uses and within the amounts stipulated by the SBA (more on that in a bit).


      Contrary to what some people might expect, “payroll” doesn’t just include the paychecks passed out to employees. When it comes to the PPP loan category, quite a few other business costs also fall under the payroll umbrella. In addition to employee compensation, these include:

      • Paid vacation, maternity/paternity, family, medical, and sick leave
      • Allowances for dismissal or separation
      • State or local taxes assessed on employee compensation
      • Healthcare benefits (including premiums for insurance)
      • Retirement benefits

      Other Business Expenses

      This category may seem like the catch-all bag, but it’s not. The forgiveness requirements are quite specific on the qualifications and general parameters surrounding the term “other.” Fortunately, we’ve got the list right here:

      • Rent and utilities (for business locations) 
      • Interest on mortgage obligations (excluding prepayment or payment of principal on a mortgage)
      • Interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020

      Details You Don’t Want to Miss

      Not only do you have to worry about how you use your PPP loan funds, but you also need to take special care of how much you use between those 2 categories. According to the forgiveness details section of SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program page, you must use no less than 75% of the loan amount to cover the payroll costs listed above. Additionally, they state that forgiveness is based on whether or not you maintain or quickly rehire employees at their original salary, but “forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”

      All of that means you desperately need to stay on top of your books, track your spending, and have a paper trail for every penny received and spent. Fortunately, we’ve got a pretty great tool that can take your bookkeeping to the next level.

      How Sunrise Can Help You

      Backed by Lendio, Sunrise is an online bookkeeping tool packed with handy features to make your PPP loan tracking process a breeze. Gone are the days of drawers stuffed with expense receipts and tax-season panic. Now you can have all of your bookkeeping details in one, easy-to-use system that won’t cost you a thing. That’s right. It’s free.

      Tracking Your PPP Loan

      The Sunrise bookkeeping system boasts a robust tracking feature that’s housed within the core features of the program. To take advantage of it, all you need to do is link your business bank account and credit cards, and all of your expenses and income can be automatically categorized. So if you spend a portion of your loan money to pay an employee and another to cover this month’s office utilities, you’ll know exactly how much went to each and when—which will make reporting a piece of cake.

      Special Features For Better Business 

      More than monitoring the movement of your PPP funds, Sunrise goes above and beyond within the bookkeeping sphere to ensure you have a careful eye on every corner of your operations and make practical, informed decisions when it comes to the welfare of your business. When you sign up, you’ll get:

      Help Managing Your Cash Flow

      How you present yourself to customers says a lot about you as a business. That’s why Sunrise lets you build customizable invoices so you’re always putting your best foot forward. You can include your logo, as well as business and billing information. Is calculating sales tax giving you a headache? Don’t worry—these invoices can automatically add sales taxes based on the location of your customers. You can also send quotes and estimates to potential clients that easily convert into invoices with one click. Having a promotional event or want better invoicing information? Sunrise can easily add discounts, handle refunds, and let you see where your invoices sit—whether they are paid, unpaid, or overdue. You’re in control and in the know.

      Fast-Track Access to Future Capital

      There’s so much red tape surrounding applications for loans, grants, and other forms of financial aid that it would drive any business owner mad. Fortunately, while other small businesses run around in a state of panic or sit around dumbfounded, Sunrise can set you up for success. It will keep and categorize your information with its automatic expense tracking system and financial reports, which you can then use to satisfy some of the application and lending requirements you might encounter. It pays to be prepared.

      Access to a Personal Business Bookkeeper

      Lastly, for business owners who don’t want the hassle of handling their own books or can’t be bothered with the process of tracking their PPP loan on their own, Sunrise has a solution. Starting at only $149 per month, you can sync expenses and off-load a chunk of your responsibilities to a real live, bookkeeping expert. These professionals can handle the monthly closing of your books, help with your taxes, and answer all of your bookkeeping questions by email or text. It’s almost like you’ve got a little accountant living in your phone.

      About the author
      Bjolan Holyoak

      Bjolan Holyoak is a small business finance writer based in Utah. As a copywriter for Lendio, he fuels the American Dream by giving small business owners the information they crave. He believes that with the right panache, financial information can be as much of a "breath of fresh air" as a hike in the Utah mountains.

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